This week, I published Anjana Vakil's #DevJourney story on my eponym Podcast: Software developer's Journey. Among many other things, here are my main personal takeaways:
- Anjana places the start of her journey when studying philosophy, where logic took a big place. But her journey in software started when she went from linguistics to computational linguistics.
- Computational linguistics is an umbrella term that covers interactions between human languages and computational processes, using computers to study languages but also breaking down languages in a way computers can understand. Anjana herself studied how one can use computer to help foreigners improve their pronunciation, for instance French native speakers wanting to speak German.
- We then surfed on the analogy of having an accent when coding, similar to speaking German with a French accent, like writing Python, with a C++ accent. In a broader sense, this is the idea of mental models. You create a mental model with one language and try to apply it to a different one.
- During her research, Anjana wrote a lot of code, but the focus was not on creating quality code. She felt something was missing. So she decided to attend a "Coding Retreat" at the Recurse Center in New York. And it rocked her world. It was enriching, energizing and a fantastic human experience.
- Among other things, the Recurse Center is very inclusive and makes it very easy for newcomers to attend through a set of Social Rules every one adhere to:
- "No 'well actuallys'"
- "No feigned surprises"
- "No backseat driving"
- "No subtle-isms"
- If she were to go back to the Recurse Center now, it would be less to fill the holes in her computer science knowledge and more about expanding her reach with new languages, paradigms, models, types of programming, etc.
- Anjana's interest shifted toward "how we teach programming languages". In a way, it is still riding the same wave of teaching and languages... just with a different flavor. I love how careers evolve like this. I wanted to become an architect (for buildings) and had a strong interest in leadership. I ended up studying computer science and migrated toward software architecture. And then slowly toward coaching and leadership. Somehow careers change, but the underlying interest remain the same.
- Anjana defines Developer Advocacy as follows: it is the sweet spot between nerding-out on new cool tech, and interacting with people, communities and helping them be successful.
- She gave her first talk at an "Unconference", a conference where the agenda is not defined before the conference, but emerges among the attendees. There you can "host" a session by asking a question, or simply presenting your journey through some small project. No need to be an expert.
- Find a community, other people you can connect with and get excited with. Reach out to people who are different than you.
- "One of the paradigm shifts in my journey, was to find a community of folks I could be a learner with. This opened up so many doors."
- "Don't self filter on the ideas you want to speak about. Pitch your ideas, and let the committee decide if they want to have it on."
Thanks Anjana for sharing your story with us!
You can find the full episode and the shownotes on devjourney.info.
Did you listen to her story?
- What did you learn?
- What are your personal takeaways?
- What did you find particularly interesting?